The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. Albert Einstein
Last night I had a conversation with my 20 year old son about if it was more important to be happy in the moment or to have a meaningful life which will bring you long term happiness and fulfillment. How do we obtain this meaningful life? By learning and contributing to society? What tools do we need to offer our children to be successful and contributing members of society in this fast paced changing digital world we live in? And how can play offer the tools to meet the challenges of today?
Psychology has defined happiness as subjective well-being however some theorists disagree with this and instead promote the idea of the meaningful life being as important as or more important than a happy one.
As a game and toy designer, I have the wonderful challenge of providing products to meet these challenges.
The new millennium was ushered in by a dramatic technological revolution. We now live in an increasingly diverse, globalized, and complex, media-saturated society. According to Dr. Douglas Kellner at UCLA this technological revolution will have a greater impact on society than the transition from an oral to a print culture.
Today’s kindergarteners will be retiring in the year 2075. We have no idea of what the world will look in five years, much less 60 years, yet we are charged with preparing our students for life in that world. Our students are facing many emerging issues such as global warming, famine, poverty, health issues, a global population explosion and other environmental and social issues. These issues lead to a need for students to be able to communicate, function and create change personally, socially, economically and politically on local, national and global levels.
How do we meet the critical need for developing 21st century skills and yet meet the needs of the “whole child”. Research shows the need for Critical Thinking and Problem Solving.
Through interdisciplinary, integrated, project-based learning which includes and project-based curriculum, there are seven survival skills advocated by Tony Wagner:
- Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
- Agility and Adaptability
- Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
- Effective Oral and Written Communication
- Accessing and Analyzing Information
- Curiosity and Imagination
Project-based curriculum for life aimed at engaging students in addressing real-world problems, issues important to humanity, and questions that matter. This is a dramatic departure from the traditional education of the past. It means a new way of understanding the concept of “knowledge”, a new definition of the “educated person”. A new way of designing and delivering the curriculum is required.
In the past, a learner was a young person who went to school, spent time in certain courses, received passing grades and graduated. Today learning includes engagement. Learning needs to create a sense of curiosity which is the fundamental to lifelong learning, while exciting learners to become more resourceful so they will continue to learn past their school day.
With students having newly found enthusiasm and excitement for school, a desire to work, to research and write, their growth in their basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, researching, scientific explorations, math, multimedia skills will be learned with ease.
Through play of board games, building toys, investigational toys and toys in general, children can learn through experiment, engagement and experience. It is the responsibility of toy makers to bring engaging, trend setting products for children to meet their growing needs for the 21st. century.
About Reisa Schwartzman
Reisa Schwartzman is president of Griddly Games, and the designer of Oversight, an abstract stategy game. Griddly Games creates award-winning party and board games that deliver innovative, engaging fun that brings people together while encouraging social interaction, learning, strategy and challenges that anyone (the entire grid of people) can enjoy. To discover more about Griddly Games, visit www.griddlygames.com.